Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interlaken - Tag Zwei

...continued from Interlaken - Tag Eins

Woke up bright and early to check the weather channel. Although, we didn't even need to hear the forecast. It was still raining outside. Ugh! We still turned on the TV to see the live video from the top of Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn. You couldn't even see the mountain. It just looked like one big cloud. Not happy, we set off to breakfast. As we were eating our European breakfast (yum yum), the clouds started lifting and the sun started shining. Somebody must have been looking out for us.

We caught the train to Lauterbrunnen again, but this time switched over to arrive in Wengen. From there, we cable car-ed it up to Männlichen where we started the hike over to Kleine Scheidegg. This hike was definitely more touristy than the day before, but maybe it had to do with the weather. Again, we walked along this beautiful trail, but this time with the Eiger staring down at us. What a sight! I happily strolled through the countryside snacking on my Hot Tamales and taking as many pictures as possible when the sun came out to visit. Other people stopped and had their picnic lunches where tables were available. We just powered through enjoying the scenery. I think deep down we were just ready to step foot on the "Top of Europe".

There is something about Kleine Scheidegg. It is an adorable, little town. Maybe it was the hike to get there, but I think if we went back, I would want to stay there instead of Interlaken.

From there, we boarded the train to Jungfraujoch -- the highest rail station in Europe, also known as the "Top of Europe". The train made a few stops along the way where you could jump out and take pictures of the glacier and the mountaintops. There were also hikes throughout this area. Another thing I would do if we ever go back. We just didn't have enough time for everything this trip.

Finally, after an hour or so train ride to the top, we made it to Jungfraujoch. The annoying part was having to find your way through the tourist center to actually see the mountain. It felt like Vegas, where you have to go through the casino no matter where you are trying to get in the hotel. We found our way to the terrace view. I had bundled up ready for the cold weather and went out on the observation deck.

Have you ever seen "The Bucket List"? You know the item on their list that says, "to see something truly majestic"? This was it. This was my "truly majestic". Again, I just don't have the words. I was at the top of the Alps, the top of Europe and in utter amazement. Breathtaking. Magnificent. Majestic.

We were on a bit of a time crunch, since we had to get back to Zurich tonight and it takes two and a half hours to get down the mountain and then another two to get back to Zurich. We made our way back into the tourist trap, bought a few postcards, and mailed them to some select special people. This is also the highest post office -- I want to say in the world, but can't be certain. Josh would know.

Go check your mail. Maybe there will be a surprise for you.

Lastly, we went to the plateau observation area. We definitely saved the best for last. The whole day everything just kept escalating on how amazing something could be. It was like a competition, each view beating the last. We walked out into the open air, feet on the snow, and I took a deep breath. Breathing in this sight.

Watching Josh take pictures like a mad man just made me happier. He was so excited. I love seeing him this happy.

We both didn't want to leave, but it was time. We had a long trip ahead of us, and to be honest, I was spent. I needed the hiking boots off and some food to tide me over. We made it back to Interlaken taking a different route than before through Grindelwald and boarded the train to Zurich.

I know these posts don't do justice to what we saw, but hopefully it lights a fire under you to visit. To see more pictures, you can always visit our Flickr pages here and here.

Interlaken - Tag Eins

To satisfy our need to explore the Alps, we took a short weekend trip to Interlaken. We boarded the earliest train we could bare this past Saturday leaving at 8am. Ate our yummy Nutella croissant breakfast and tapped our feet in anticipation for the two hour train ride through Bern, arriving at Interlaken West.

During the train ride, I just kept praying that the rain would stop and the clouds would break up just as we rolled into town. Can't you picture it? A ray of light shining directly over Interlaken, maybe even some humming in the background. But, it wasn't looking good. We got off the train and immediately were trying to figure out where to buy cheap...wait, nothing is cheap in Switzerland...I mean, where to buy less expensive water-resistant jackets. First things first though, we had to check in to our quaint Bed and Breakfast. Drop off our bags and figure out how the rain was going to effect our semi-planned day of hiking and exploring.

The receptionist at Hotel Lötschberg was amazing. She pointed us over to the Migros for jackets and helped us make decisions for how our day should flow based on the weather.

We headed back to the train station to make our way to Lauterbrunnen.

There we boarded a cable car to Grütschalp and skipped this part of the hike because the trail would be too slick. We actually lucked out because this would have been the most challenging part of the hike. Thank you rain!

Once in Grütschalp, we started hiking towards Winteregg and then on to Mürren. About an hour and a half trip for most, but with Josh and I shooting a bizzillion pictures and leisurely taking in all the sites, it was more like two and a half hours. It was beautiful, and the rain just added to it. We were surrounded by waterfalls, wild flowers, and snow-covered mountains in the background.

In Mürren, we stopped for lunch to dry off and have a beer. We sat next to a large picture window and watched the fog roll in around the mountains enjoying every minute of the day. Next stop took a hike over to Stechelberg, a cable car ride to Gimmelwald, and then a bus ending at Trümmelbach Falls. Gold star for the recommendation by the hotel receptionist.

Trümmelbach Falls was like nothing I had ever seen (I feel like I have keep saying this throughout my blog posts...oh well. It's a good thing, right?). You pay 10 CHF with your Interlaken discount card and take an elevator up to top of this mountain. The door opens up and you follow the trail into the mountain. We had no idea what to expect. We were still a little pissed that we had to pay for this tourist stop. We had already seen a ton of waterfalls throughout the day. What could make this one better? We were so wrong. This is a must see if you are going to Interlaken and 10 CHF is a deal. Back to the story...the doors open, you enter the mountain and BOOM giant waterfall. There aren't words to describe it. I think we all forget how powerful water can be. You could feel the vibration of the falls, hear the rush of water, and feel the spray across your face. I get chills just writing about it.

After following the trails in and around Trümmelbach Falls, we boarded the bus and headed back to Lauterbrunnen and then on to Interlaken. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole day. Well, maybe just to pick my mouth up from hitting the floor every time I turned a corner. This is the place people dream about going to...and we are here. How did I ever get so lucky?

We made it back to the hotel just in time for my tummy to start growling and my blood sugar to drop. I needed food NOW. We walked over to a nearby local joint (also recommended by the receptionist) for some true Swiss food. I think it was called Baron's Grill and was just off the main drag on the other side of the lake.

We ate rösti and fondue til our hearts content. And, of course had to wash it down with some Swiss Wein and Grand Marnier to warm us up from the inside out.

As we rolled ourselves back to the Bed and Breakfast, the sun was just setting (probably around 10pm) and the Alps were almost highlighted in the sky. What could have made this day any better? I would have said nothing, but when we got back to the hotel and crawled in to our bed, we heard something that sounded like fireworks. No...couldn't be. We both looked up and out of our attic window, and no kidding, there were fireworks going off over one of the lakes. We slept well that night in anticipation for the next day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bern, Chicka, Bern, Bern...

I can't help it. That song runs through my head every time I say the word Bern (Berne for the French speakers). Bern, Chicka, Bern, Bern...

Just so you know...
This post is going to be primarily pictures. It was a while ago that we visited Bern. And to be honest, we just got back from Interlaken this past weekend and Bern is nothing compared to the trip there. Sorry to all from Bern, but I am sure you can understand my feelings.

Here goes...

Unexpected Farmer's Market. Won't find anything quite like this in the States.

Federal Palace.

Along the streets in Old Town, you will find doors like these lining the roads. These doors lead to basement shops. All accessible from the street.

Einstein completed his Theory of Relativity while living in Bern. You can even tour the apartment for 6 chf. Maybe some of his brilliance will rub off on you.

And, lastly we toured the Münster Cathedral.

 For a quick day trip, Bern was a perfect fit for us. Relaxed town where you could just wonder in and out of streets, not knowing exactly where you were going, while being surrounded by beautiful architecture and landscapes.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Betty Crocker - Eat Your Heart Out

With the upcoming trip to Interlaken looming, I decided to try out my skills in the kitchen and surprise Josh with a tasty treat for the early morning train tomorrow.
Nutella croissant, anyone? Thanks to my mom for the many demonstrations of this craft during her visit to Zurich.

Zooh! - Part Zwei

...continued from Part Eins
Can anyone guess how much an elephant wee-wees in a day? Thought I would throw in some useless trivia for your next formal social engagement.

A little visual representation to help you out...

Can't compete with that. You go, elephants!

Saggy-humped camels. Another first. Guess these camels aren't hurting for water.

Petting zoo for the youngsters. I think Stella would fit in pretty well with this crowd.

Oh wait. Those are the 'rents. They also fit in pretty well with this part of the Zoo.

Quick tour of the rain forest. Smells like mold, but pretty. Guessing this is a black orchid. Unreal.

My only criticisms have to be about the lions and the tigers. Notice I didn't have any pictures posted? The lions and tigers here must be super-duper mean. You can't even get close enough to really see them. These animals are a big part of why people come to the zoo. It was a little bit of a let down, but overall I loved it. Highly recommend.

Had to end on a high note with my loner penguin. He was just chillin' by himself in the corner looking at the fake sun. What can compete with that?